© J. Licsko 2010 6"x6" oil on canvas
After you are sure that your intended gallery is a "good fit" for your work, then you must be equally sure it is right for your personality. Artists, being easily influenced emotional beings, must consciously respect and protect their psyche.
Two art dealers were asked how they feel about their artists visiting the gallery. The first said, " I love it when the artists drops in to the gallery frequently. It is easier to sell a painting when you really know the artist, and they are always on your mind." The other said, "Artists should deliver the work, and then leave it to me. I will call them if something sells". Artists should ask the same question of their prospective galleries.
A good dealer knows that his artists are crucial to his success. The gallery owner and staff will treat the artist with warmth. They want you to know that they welcome you, and are proud to show your art. Nurtured by this environment, your creativity has the best chance of flourishing.
The worst dealers have personality problems that infect everything and potentially everyone with whom they come in contact. Even if your art sells in that environment, you will be able to find a better gallery. If you feel unwelcome when you visit your gallery, move on.
A good gallery presents and handles art in a professional manner. If you find your paintings on the floor, leaning against a wall, or worse, in the storage closet, you need to know why. Does this happen often? Are they getting scratched? Are you finding thumb prints on the tops of your canvas caused by improper carrying? Are you being asked to repair work damaged in the gallery?
Some galleries may sell your art more frequently than others, but if that's done by always discounting your work, you loose. Even if the dealer takes the discount from their own commission, it decreases the retail value of your current works, future sales, and handicaps the other galleries you work with. Make it clear in your in your consignment sheet, that the gallery's commission is a clearly specified percentage of the retail price. This is different from telling them "your price" thereby allowing them to make whatever they want on top. Honor your galleries and your art by keeping your retail prices consistent. Do not undercut your galleries by selling privately at lower prices. And remember, the Internet makes it very easy for collectors to comparison shop the different galleries. There are no secrets.
The best art dealers will work to sell your art at its full value, promoting and educating the collector about all your strengths. They will help the artist build the value of their work, at the right pace, over time. They are not afraid their artists will out grow them, because they want to grow too.
Just as good fences make good neighbors, good consignment agreements make good business. In a previous post, I have shown an example of my own contract that is short, and been "good enough" for me in most circumstances. I augment it as I go along, adding or subtracting points that are relevant to each gallery situation. If you can afford an art attorney, it would be wise to have one designed specifically for you and your needs. However, be warned, it is the tendency for lawyers to be so detailed that prospective galleries won't sign it without the advice of their attorney, and that added expense could be a deal breaker before you have had a chance to develop a relationship. Ask your attorney to keep it as simple as possible, adaptable to various galleries, and preferably, one page.
Next post: part 3 Getting paid.
Next post: part 3 Getting paid.